The Hard Truth About Being A Professional Writer

I’ve been in the professional writing world for 16+ years and worked with hundreds of writers in all different capacities, and I can now look at writers and tell you based on their habits, beliefs, mindset and the actions they take (or don’t take) which ones are never gonna make it.

Because most writers aren’t willing to do what it actually takes to be successful. And the biggest thing most writers aren’t willing to do is invest in themselves.

I mean, maybe you can get where you want to go without investing in yourself, but I honestly don’t see how. I’ve been investing in my writing since age 13 (and even before that with books that I bought), when I took a self-publishing class at Writers and Books in Rochester, NY, to learn how to self-publish the novella I’d written (which I didn’t end up publishing because it wasn’t ready, but at least I took the class to learn what was required to do so).

And I’ve been investing in myself and my writing ever since, including a four-year Journalism degree with a minor in Creative Writing, and tons of classes, workshops, programs, books, editors, Beta Readers, formatters, cover designers and coaches/mentors that all helped me get to where I am today.

The specific amount you invest isn’t what matters–it’s about believing in yourself and in your writing enough to put your money where your dream is.

No one achieves their writing dream (or any dream) for free–and that’s a hard pill for a lot of writers to swallow.

But it’s the truth. Anyone who did somehow manage to get there for “free” had way more struggle and frustration than is necessary or worth it.

And the other truth is that pro writers got to be pros because they invested in themselves–time, energy and their money–hiring editors and designers and formatters and attending writing conferences where they could connect with agents and joining workshops or buying books to learn as much as possible about how to be the pro writer they dream of being.

Writers who believe in themselves and in their dreams are willing to invest in things that will take them to the next level. It’s one of the clear-cut distinctions between an amateur/hobbyist writer and a professional.

Pro writers invest in themselves, over and over and over again, in whatever ways are required to get to where they want to go.

Every month I invest in new books and workshops and masterminds and mentoring that will take me to the next level, and whenever I need to, I invest in formatting and design and editing and Beta Reading and whatever else I need to bring my books to life in a professional way.

It’s not about the specific amount you’re investing, it’s just about putting your money where your dream is.

And, really, if you fully believed that you will get there and that you have what it takes to succeed, you wouldn’t think twice about investing in yourself and in your writing, because you’d know it’s a stepping stone to where you want to be and that one day in the not-too-far-off future that investment will come back to you ten-fold, twenty-fold and maybe even a hundred- or a thousand-fold.

And, best of all, you’re acting as if you are already the professional writer and author you dream of being. Acting as if sends a powerful signal to the Universe that you’re ready for the next level.

On the opposite side, when you act–or don’t act–because of fear, and your hoard your money and refuse to invest in your dream, you also send a powerful signal to the Universe that says, “I’m not ready! I can’t handle being a pro writer or going to the next level in my writing life.”

And so that’s what unfolds and continues to unfold in your life–not getting there, not being the pro you want to be, not having the results you desire.

Every year you tell yourself that this is the year you’ll write your novel or finish your novel or publish your novel…and then the year goes by and you still haven’t done what you said you were gonna do. And, again, you start the next year, hopeful and saying the same thing you’ve been saying all along.

And yet you’re not acting any different.

So often we tell ourselves that we’ll do it when we’re ready or when we have the time/energy/money. But the time/energy/money never shows up, because it’s in the acting as if that summons the time, the energy and the money. And you’re not acting as if.

I paid $450 to my first writing coach who helped hold me accountable to writing my chapters every week and getting my novel done.

It was the best $450 I ever spent (up ’til that point). And that was a lot of money for me back in 2008 when I was only a few years out of college and not making a whole lot. It was giving up Starbucks and not going out to eat as often–but just for a little while.

And what resulted, was the first draft of my first novel. (It was a total mess, but I finally wrote and finished it.)

Now, of course, investing the time, energy and money is only part of it. You also have to show up and do the work to get the result, but the investment pushes you to step up, commit and do whatever it takes.

And that’s why pro writers invest in themselves. Because they always want to put out their best work possible and they know they can’t do it alone. So they hire coaches, editors, Beta Readers, cover designers and interior book formatters, and they attend writing conferences or take workshops or buy books that will move them forward on their journey to becoming the writer and author they want to be.

It’s not about the specific amount of money you invest. It’s about the message that it sends, and that message is I’m worth it.

Dream life or bust,



#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. Only ONE HOUR LEFT to grab the Write Your Damn Novel: NaNo Edition Fast-Action Bonus: a FREE 30-minute Story Discovery call with me where we’ll discuss your idea and how to turn it into an actual story. This call is the perfect jumping off point for starting the workshop on September 11.

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